Thursday, July 3, 2014

The ABCs of Sega CD #2: The Adventures of Willy Beamish

The Adventures of Willy Beamish
Developer: Dynamix, a division of Serria
Publisher: Serria
Release Year: 1993

This is a train wreck.

The Adventures of Willy Breamish starts its spiral into madness right from the intro. RADICAL guitar riffs punctuate TUBULAR images of young Willy Beamish and his frog, shredding on guitars, skateboarding, and, uh, his dad getting letters from the IRS. GNARLY! (After the intro, the music degrades into crumby Genesis/Mega Drive fare. Oh well.) It’s like the early 1990s puked into a Sega CD box, and not in that nostalgic Buzzfeed kind of way.

That's right, Iceman! I am dangerous!

The game begins the day before summer vacation. For some reason, Willy has brought his pet frog to school, and while the principal is blabbing away at an assembly (on the last day?) the frog leaps up and snags his hairpiece. The frog’s name is Horny, by the way.

I’ll wait for you to stop groaning before I continue.

Willy gets detention and the player is finally given control over the action. You’re forced to do every little thing, from bandaging a small cut to feeding and walking Willy’s dog. Conversations, nearly all of which are teeth-gnashingly boring, go on FOR. EV. ER. I’ve seen livelier dialogue in yogurt commercials.

Will Willy get his sister breakfast? Or will he...not? EXCITEMENT!

After detention, Willy’s dead grandfather shows up, a la Grandpa Seth in Troll 2, Willy’s dog starts talking, his babysitter becomes a psychic vampire, and Willy is nearly gang raped by the cast of “Grease” before being rescued by a family of vacationing ninjas.

Maybe this game is a somber look into adolescent mental illness, and I’m just missing it?

S'up, ghostly grandpa! (Ghostpa?)
Then you slice up vegies for dinner, mow the lawn, and wash his father’s car. This game switches between the banal and the batshit insane at a breakneck pace. It’s like the creators didn’t know whether they wanted to make a fantastic world or a little boy simulator.

Too bad you won’t care about any of the selfish, stock characters. Willy’s only concern when his father loses his job is getting the $2,500 he needs to enter a “Nintari” competition (no Fred Savage here, unfortunately), and every sentence out of his mother’s mouth takes feminism back at least 10 years.

The Adventures of Willy Beamish suffers from a bad case of EXTREME attitude that plagued a lot of early ‘90s media. It even uses the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” gag, which was tired even in 1993. The game comes off like a lazy parody of suburban life in the early 1990s, but if that’s the case, it needs to be set to “funny” in the options screen.

I know how you feel, Willy. I know how you- HOLY CRAP IT'S DUKE NUKEM!
The goals are often as clear as peanut butter. Maybe that’s just a consequence of the genre, but games like Maniac Mansion on NES managed to be 100 times more intuitive than this on a system that has about as much processing power as a toaster.

But what really kills The Adventures of Willy Beamish is pointless trial-and-error. I guess a kid in the ‘90s with nothing better to do might have derived a modicum of entertainment from seeing how every one of Willy’s choices plays out, but the disjoined narrative ultimately disappoints no matter what. And based on his or her choices, the player might be left in an unwinnable state and have to start the game fresh. Yikes!

Finish him, Sub-Zero family!
On the plus side, this isn’t the kind of thing you’d see on 16-bit consoles. With a lot of big, nicely drawn images and tons of voice acting, The Adventures of Willy Beamish embraces the CD medium much more than the majority of the Sega CD’s offerings.

Also there’s ninjas.

But that’s not enough to save this abysmal offering from being one of the worst I've ever played on any console. As our young antihero might say, this game is so bogus.

I love you dad and dead grandpa! 

See you next time on ABCs of Sega CD with Afterburner III!

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